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New Gaza truce still holding after shaky start

Updated: 2014-08-15 08:24
(China Daily)

Israel and militants in Gaza were holding their fire on Thursday after a new truce got off to a shaky start, with nighttime Palestinian rocket fire followed by Israeli airstrikes.

Late on Wednesday, negotiators in Cairo brokered an 11th-hour extension to an existing truce, with the warring sides agreeing to hold their fire for another five days to allow for continued negotiations over a long-term cease-fire.

But even before the renewal of the 72-hour truce was announced, at least one rocket hit Israel with another five striking in the following hours, the army said, without specifying whether they hit before or after the new truce came into effect at midnight. One rocket was shot down.

Israeli warplanes hit back with around four airstrikes, Palestinian security officials told AFP, adding that the skies fell silent at around 3 am.

"An agreement to extend the cease-fire for five days has been accepted by both sides to allow more time for negotiations," an Egyptian foreign ministry statement said just before midnight.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Azzam al-Ahmed confirmed the five-day cease-fire, saying the delegations had reached "agreement on many points" over a lifting of Israel's eight-year blockade on Gaza, although they needed more time to settle a number of remaining disputes.

In Israel, a senior official confirmed acceptance of the Egyptian proposal for a five-day truce.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Thursday that China calls on both sides to show the utmost restraint during the cease-fire, step up negotiations with a rational and responsible attitude and reach a long-term agreement as soon as possible.

AFP - Xinhua

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